A/N Have come to the conclusion that I need to switch over to Solitaire when I'm bored and noodling around offline, lol, yep. Anyway, enjoy this for the metaphorical entertainment it is. It's set a few weeks after 5x10 and disregarding anything that may have occurred in 5x11.


The Queen of Spades

As a teenager he'd been through a phase. It involved fantasies of him being a professional card shark at all the biggest casinos in Las Vegas. The best he could ever do was be the winner of the private tournaments Derek and he held in Derek's basement. For a couple of hours on one Sunday a month an array of football players and band geeks would congregate together and play various card games.

Having an aptitude for all things bluffing Mark was usually always the poker champion. He failed miserably when it came to bridge – Derek was always the best at that. He never could get his mind around the whole concept having always been better at games like Euchre and 500. There was the obligatory 'Go fish' and 'Bullshit' rounds for those of the football team who couldn't understand anything deeper, which provided light hearted fun until they reached the time for Mark's favourite game – Hearts.

Later when he developed better things to do on Sundays (like members of the cheer leading squad) hearts evolved from a game into a life philosophy. Always avoid the heart. Always avoid the heart, Go for anything but the heart.

He'd always been good at avoiding the heart, indulging in other suits and activities. Whenever he thought something was getting too serious with someone he didn't want it to be serious with he'd back out quickly, play low and black. He prided himself in it.

Occasionally though, he'd go for all the hearts. He'd aim for every single one and would do anything, play any suit he could just to get them. 'Shooting the moon' was the common phrase for it. And then when he'd have all the hearts he'd go for the queen of spades. Always in that order. Because even though it never worked out that neatly in the game, in the real world it worked with women. The hearts he accumulated were the things that made the queen of spades fall for him.

But once, just once, his philosophy failed him. It failed him so badly he wasn't really sure what to do with himself when the whole sorry affair was over.

Addison Shepherd had left him with thirteen hearts and no Queen of Spades. She'd left him with hope, love and all the other mundane things and had slipped into an on call room with Alex Karev in spite of it all. She had been his Queen of spades and he had lost her.

He didn't try to shoot the moon after that. He kept a low profile and tried to stay on a score of zero without being clever. He did it the easy way – stuck to sex and nothing else.

But the queen of spades snuck up on him – as she tends to do. She didn't give him time to get all his hearts in order or to figure out if he really wanted to try again. She just walked into his life and into his hotel room and now he's either totally fucked or potentially totally fucked. He hasn't figured out which yet.

See, he could walk away. He could back down with the queen of spades under his belt. He would take the blows. Take the points and the hits.

Or he could try for the hearts, try for the whole thing. And while that presents a certain amount of appeal…

He's scared he's only going to make things worse.

Smile in the morning? Heart. One more point. Promising and subtle glances? Two hearts. Two points. The sharing of hopes and dreams and futures? Ten hearts. Ten more points. Ten more things she'll have to be sad about when he breaks her. And he will. He always does. One way or the other.

He takes a sip of his whiskey and sighs. He's been doing that a lot lately. Derek thinks that he has something wrong with him, which could always be a possibility. Perhaps there's a perfectly logical medical reason he treats love like a card game. He's sure other people; normal people go about it in a rather different way. Normal people let the chips fall where they may. Normal people have trust and faith. And as is the nature of many dirty mistresses he has… Abandonment issues.

Except this time he's not even sure if he's worried about himself. It's not his feelings he's worried about hurting. It's not his score board he's afraid of adding points to.

It's hers.

And while taking the blows himself is one thing… Having her take them instead is another entirely.

She's sitting at the other end of the bar by herself. He's pretty sure she doesn't have any friends. And while Big Grey has a guarded sisterly concern she's also sitting at another table drinking with Derek being unaware and ignorant and smiling all the more for it.

"Why don't you just go and ask her to dance?"

He turns to Callie who's eyeing him with a knowing expression.

He thinks the answer to that is fairly evident.

"She's little Grey!" He exclaims indignantly. "She's a hot intern."

"But you've already been there I mean… Why wear a raincoat when you're already wet?"

He knows then that Callie is a bad card player.

"Because you can get wetter."

"You just made that metaphor stupider, if that's possible."

"I know." He groans. He looks back at Lexie, still playing with her hair absent mindedly and managing to look utterly lonely and becoming; "It wouldn't work. It'd be… Disastrous."

"I thought you were the master of disastrous relationships?"

"Well sure… But…"

Again.

She's Little Grey.

"She's my Queen of Spades."

"Isn't that a card?"

He knows then she's a really bad card player.

"You've never played hearts?"

"I played a couple of games of Black Jack with George in…" She stops short, "Forget it. Explain?"

"You know the game where you get a point every time you get a heart and thirteen points when you get the Queen of spades? And the person with the lowest score is always the winner?"

"The whiskey is affecting your eloquence."

He glares at her until she averts her glance and says; "So er… What's this got to do with Lexie?"

"She's my Queen of Spades. The atomic bomb to my Hiroshima. The republican to my world peace… The-"

"Okay, okay!" She laughs taking away his glass of whiskey, "Your sense of humour is getting too political. That's enough drink for you."

They sit in a drunken kind of stupor for a few minutes mulling over the last few minutes of conversation and growing more anxious.

"Are you okay?"

He doesn't look up.

No. He's not. He has the Queen of Spades and too much heart to pursue the hearts. For her he can only do one thing; back down now before everything gets momentously worse.

They sit for a while longer before Callie mutters something about going home and sleeping. He's not entirely paying attention because his brain is still trying to work around the whiskey.

When she's gone it only takes three minutes for the Queen to approach him. He wonders idly why he's counting minutes on his analogue wrist watch and considers that he should probably never drink whiskey and think about love philosophies at the same time again.

"Why do you think you're bad?"

It's a direct question. It takes him a little while to figure out how to answer properly. When he does he's sure he's eligible for the Guinness World Book of Records for the stupidest answer ever given to a question.

"Because I am."

Her stare is piercing. He's used to her flustered but she's obviously worked herself up to say this and he's not about to rain on her parade.

"You're not."

The conviction and honesty with which she says it is staggering. For a moment he's not even sure where he is. All he knows is that he's staring at Lexie Grey and that she doesn't think he's bad. And that…That...

He stands with the knowledge that he's about to do something very stupid in front of Derek Shepherd but he doesn't care. He looks at her seriously for a moment before taking her face in his hands gently. The same look of relief passes over her face as it did seconds before he kissed her in his hotel room. It could be the whiskey. It could be Callie's raincoat metaphor swirling around in his head. It could be the mental illness he obviously has but...

He's pretty sure that Lexie Grey thinking he's not bad is the equivalent of shooting the moon. Those words are hearts and trust enough for him.


Would a Mark/Whiskey combo be enough for reviewers?? :)